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Archive for March, 2010

Why Hasn’t Rep. Charles Rangel Been Indicted?

By Steven Levin

As a recovering federal prosecutor, I see an occasional injustice that I might not have seen when I was with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland. A businessman, for instance, is wrongfully targeted and subsequently suffers from the toll such an investigation takes on both his personal and professional life.

I also see the occasional injustice in which those who should be targeted and should be indicted avoid either one or both. Enter Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). So far, with him, the system has failed us. The question begs to be asked: Why has he not been indicted?

If Representative Rangel were (merely) Mr. Rangel, how long do you think it would take a prosecutor to seek an indictment for tax evasion based on, as reported by The New York Times, his alleged failure to report rental income earned from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, or his alleged receipt of gifts related to his rental of four rent-controlled apartments for less than market value? The answer in part would simply be before the statute of limitations runs.

But all is not lost. At least the system seems to be working in North Carolina, where Ex-Sen. (Now “Mr” ) John Edwards appears to remain the target of a federal grand jury for his alleged improper use of campaign funds.

Only time will tell if Mr. Edwards goes from the target of an investigation to a defendant in an indictment. If so, I suspect that few would see an injustice in that.

Levin can be reached at slevin@levingallagher.com.

President Nominates Willie R. Stafford For U.S. Marshal in North Carolina

us-marshall2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Willie R. Stafford, a background investigator for the Greensboro, N.C. police epartment, for the U.S. Marshal spot for the Middle District of North Carolina.

His bio is a follows, according to a White House press release:

Willie R. Stafford currently serves as a background investigator for the Greensboro, NC, police department, and is an independent consultant providing pre-employment screening and promotional testing services for law enforcement agencies.

From 1975 to 2004, Stafford served with the Greensboro Police Department in a variety of operational positions. He retired as the Assistant Chief of Police for the Western Operations Bureau. Stafford earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs in 1988 and a Bachelor’s Degree in American History and Psychology in 1975, both from the University of North Carolina.

President Obama Nominates U.S. Attys for New Mexico and Washington State

Mike Ormsby/law firm photo

Mike Ormsby/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The slow, laborious process of filling the U.S. Attorney posts around the country continued on Wednesday when President Obama nominated attorneys to fill the spots in New Mexico and the Eastern District of Washington state.

The nominees include assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales for the New Mexico post and private attorney Michael C. Ormsby to serve as United States Attorneys.

The bios of the two are as follows, according to the White House press release:

Kenneth J. Gonzales currently works as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, where he has been since 1999. He also serves in the United States Army Reserve in the Office of the Judge Advocate General. He recently returned from active duty at Fort Bragg, where he served as Senior Trial Counsel. He also spends one weekend a month working as a Judge Advocate Legal Assistance Attorney, working with Army personnel on estate planning and other legal matters. Previously, Gonzales worked as a Legislative Assistant in the Office of United States Senator Jeff Bingaman. Gonzales began his legal career serving as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Joseph F. Baca of the Supreme Court of New Mexico from 1994 until 1996. Gonzales is a 1988 graduate of the University of New Mexico and a 1991 graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Michael C. Ormsby has been a partner at K&L Gates, LLP since 1988. He advises public entities and governmental institutions on municipal finance and other legal matters. He has also served on the Spokane Public School Board and the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees. He started his legal career as an associate attorney at Lukins & Annis P.S., where he worked from 1981 to 1988. Ormsby graduated from Gonzaga University in 1979 and the Gonzaga University School of Law in 1981.

Suicide of Key Witness Puts Indian Artifact Trial in Doubt

U.S. Attorney David Gaouette/doj photo

U.S. Attorney David Gaouette/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The suicide of a key witness Monday in the fed crackdown on the black market of American Indian artifacts has put the first trial in jeopardy, the Associated Press reported.

The AP reorted that Colorado’s U.S. Attorney David Gaouette “says he’s reviewing the evidence left for a trial that was to start March 29.”

The wire service reported that Gaouette is reviewing to use videotape of key witness Ted Gardiner, who shot himself Monday following a police standoff.

To read more click here.

The Long Reach of Foreign Drug Traffickers in Baltimore

In the rough streets of Baltimore, the influence of foreign drug dealers may not be obvious — that is until you do some digging. Reporter Van Smith has done just that, and connected the dots in this report.

The logo of the Los Zetas Cartel/baltimore city paper
The logo of the Los Zetas Cartel/baltimore city paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — “The goal of any drug dealer is to cut out as many middle men as possible in order to increase profits.”

That statement was made by Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein a year ago, when he unveiled Operation Xcellerator, a U.S. Justice Department initiative aimed at laying low the long reach of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.

“I do believe,” he said at the time, “there are Baltimore drug dealers who do this by having connections with drug distributors outside of the U.S.” He vowed to “continue to trace the drugs back to the source, work our way to the top, and ultimately indict the major players.”

Since then, law enforcers here have successfully ferreted out some international ties to Baltimore’s entrenched drug economy. Though Rosenstein’s office points to only one Xcellerator case in Baltimore–a conspiracy with ties to Hollywood and Baltimore City Hall (“Mexican Connection,” Mobtown Beat, March 4, 2009)–City Paper has found three recent examples of evidence filed in U.S. District Court that indicate direct ties between Baltimore and foreign sources of supply, including the fearsome Los Zetas cartel in Mexico.

To read the full story click here.

Congressman Claims TSA Workers Harassing Some Innocent People at Airports

tsa photo

tsa photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Congressman is raising a stink about some rogue Transportation Security Officers at airports.

Joe Davidson, the Federal Diary columnist for the Washington Post, reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has written a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano complaining that travelers have been subjected “to baseless harassment, intimidation, and situations designed to instill fear and cause public humiliation.”

Davidson reports that the letter claims some TSA workers were involved in “childish practical jokes” and that some disabled passengers were mistreated.

To read full column click here.

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich Gets Rodney Dangerfield Reception on College Campus

rodneydangerfield4By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, under federal indictment on  public corruption charges, has become the Rodney Dangerfield of his time: He gets no respect.

He was reminded of that Tuesday when he appeared before a crowd of 1,000 people at Northwestern University, his old alma mater, to talk about “ethics in government.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that while Blogojevich sees himself as a victim, the crowd “saw him more as a political clown.”

The paper reported that the crowd laughed “when a campus leader said the College Democrats invited the indicted Illinois ex-governor to speak to ‘make sure tomorrow’s leaders respect the rule of law.'”

“They laughed when someone insisted that tapping Blagojevich to lead an ethics discussion was akin to asking Tiger Woods to lecture on fidelity,” the paper reported.

The paper reported that the ex-gov was annoyed.

To read more click here.

NY Imam in Subway Bomb Plot Ready to Plead Guilty

subway-photo-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The terrorism cases in New York involving the subway bombing plot seem to be falling into place.

One week after a key figure Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in the plot, Ahmad Wais Afzali, the Queens imam who was an informant, has reached an “agreement in principle” to plead guilty, Newsday reported. He is charged with four counts of lying to the FBI.

Authorities alleged that Afzali tipped off Zazi that he was under surveillance in New York.

The paper reported that his lawyer confirmed the plea agreement in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday. He is charged with four counts of lying to the FBI.

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